|Triangle of unbleached cotton gauze, folded along the bias. Wrinkled where it had been tied to make a sling. Found, untied, two doors down on the lawn, September, 2014.|
In the Wind Horse cloth I am making this year, in the year of the Horse, I am reflecting on two of the conventions for making a kesa: the source of the cloth and the colour of the cloth. I am not a professional or serious historian of Buddhism, and so I trust my sources who are. And they report variously that the proper cloth for a kesa must be: discarded, it is cloth that no one wants, cloth that is considered contaminated. I like the three variants of this essential quality of the cloth, because of what they mean taken together. Together they prescribe that the proper cloth must be cloth that cannot (must not?) be put to a usual use any longer.
And there are lists of examples of such cloth, and I find them roughly the same everywhere I look: cloth that has been discarded at shrines, or by government officials, that has been chewed by oxen, chewed by mice or rats, scorched, contacted menstrual blood or fluids during child birth, and cloth that has been a shroud. I agree these are examples of cloth that cannot be taken up for a usual purpose anymore. They are each in one way or another not available to be used in the same way it once was. It is transformed, used up, or cannot serve the same purpose again. The story that the Buddha first clothed himself, again variously, in a garment pieced from rags in general or from pieces of a burial shroud specifically, adds more to this essential definition of this cloth: it is not just cloth unfit for usual purposes, it is cloth no longer fit for mundane purposes. The cloth is fit to be elevated.
|One of four panels of the Wind Horse cloth.|
The arrangement of patches within long bands
is modelled after a kesa.
Now, in this long journey of finding cloth that I have ended up sharing here, I have not found all of the types on the list. I have found plenty scorched, a piece of linen chewed by mice, and some marked with blood. Much of the cloth I've found, most of it, is discarded twice or more: donations to charity that end up in the hands of homeless people who have to leave things behind at abandoned camps. Do these count as cloth discarded at the end of long chains shaped, largely, by government inaction on poverty? I wonder if these count as cloth, in a kind of 'ultimate' way, discarded by "government officials".
|Same found cotton gauze with one of the picture effects that reveals this cloth is luminous.|
And so I have decided to subject it to the final process of fixing its new identity by dying it for use in the Wind Horse cloth, using these two washers I found a couple of days ago in a clamp resist with this year's fresh walnuts. Once it's done and dry, I'll have to see if this gauze will work as lozenges in another section of the Wind Horse cloth.
Thank you for stopping by.